NEW DELHI — The concept of marital rape cannot be applied in India where marriage is considered as a "sacrament", government said today, adding there is no proposal to make it a criminal offence.
"It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,etc," Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said.
He was replying to a written question by DMK MP Kanimozhi in Rajya Sabha.
Kanimozhi had asked the Home Ministry whether Government will bring a bill to amend the IPC to remove the exception of marital rape from the definition of rape; and whether it is a fact that UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against women has recommended to India to criminalise marital rape.
"The Law Commission of India, while making its 172nd Report on Review of Rape Laws did not recommend criminalisation of marital rape by amending the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code and hence presently there is no proposal to bring any amendment to the IPC in this regard," Chaudhary said.
Kanimozhi had also said that according to United Nations Population Fund 75 per cent of the married women in India were subjected to marital rape and whether government has taken cognisance of the fact.
Chaudhary said the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development have reported that UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended to India to criminalise marital rape.
It may be recalled that the Justice J S Verma Committee set up in the aftermath of the Delhi gang-rape incident to suggest changes in the criminal law had recommended that the exception for marital rape be removed from the Indian Penal Code(IPC).
"The fact that the accused and victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape," the Verma Committee had said.
However, the government did not accept the recommendation.
The Parliamentary standing committee on Home in its report on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 agreed with the view of the Home ministry that criminalising marital rape would weaken traditional family values in India, and that marriage presumes consent.
It said accepting marital rape as a criminal offence could lead to "practical difficulties".
The decision to exempt marital rape has also been fiercely opposed by women's groups.